A problem touching the lives of all Bermudians
Recent headlines about violent crime with lives lost have cut deep into our Bermudian social infrastructure, with a wide range of views as to how we arrived at this stage, and over what to do about halting what appears to be a steady decline in respect for law and order in so many areas of community life.
Most Bermudians are wonderful people who still believe in strong values handed down by previous generations. Our forefathers toiled through almost unimaginable difficulties to lay a foundation for a better Bermuda. It was a struggle that tested the family structure even during the dark days of social injustice. It was a challenging period that left emotional wounds on both sides, and there were countless stories of courage and discipline within black and white families that played a key role in eventually tearing down walls of racial divisiveness.
One of the essential elements in most families back then was the no-nonsense approach in dealing with unruly behaviour or disrespect within the family circle. There are people today who would regard some of their tactics as unacceptable, bordering on abuse or cruelty. In a world far from perfect, there were probably a number of incidents where punishment may have crossed the line, causing emotional scars that seldom heal quickly. However, many who lived through that period have told stories of having their senses brought back into proper focus after undergoing, shall we say, the rod of correction.
While no right-thinking person advocates physical abuse in teaching discipline, there is a school of thought that without pain there is no gain. The real point here is that there must be consequences learnt early and that there is always a price for choosing to operate outside of golden rules for positive living.
Much has changed in this area of life in many societies, especially when parenting as we once knew it weakens. In too many cases, the children are the ones calling the shots — no reference to firearms.
Some adults I have spoken to on the subject of violence say outside influences have penetrated our Bermudian culture, and quite a number of young people believe that adopting lewd dress styles and slang talk from other countries gives them prominence. A number of people do not see much change in unruly and disrespectful conduct in our communities because of a failure to make the issue an island-wide matter of concern. When sporting events become targets for violent criminal activity, it is high time for our authorities to sit down together, pushing political divisiveness out the window with a view to seeking ways to send a signal that heavy consequences await those who resort to activities that threaten our way of life — and indeed our hard-earned image as a place of beauty and peace.
Many of the young people who embrace violent activity were not born with those instincts. In many cases, something goes wrong during their early years and often negative traits take root. Unless they are detected and addressed, it creates a problem later for all. Without wanting to face up to it, Bermuda could be in for a rough ride in trying to reverse this disturbing trend of violence, which is touching the lives of all Bermudians.
Although it has the sound of a broken record, the first place to begin tackling this problem is in the home. Whether there is agreement or disagreement, the conversation on respect for law and order in a civil society can no longer be ignored. When there is a serious crime anywhere in Bermuda, it should be of concern to the entire island. We have children growing up and moving about the island engaged in a number of activities. We should never wait for a child to fall victim to a stray bullet or some other unlawful act before deciding that something needs to be done, with all Bermuda involved.
This is not a time to find fault or place blame on economic conditions of the day. It is the time for Bermudians to shout loud and clear that enough is enough.
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